A brief review of ultrasonic wave propagation in solid materials is presented with consideration of the altered behavior in anisotropic and nonlinear elastic materials in comparison with isotropic and linear elastic materials. Some experimental results are described in which ultrasonic velocity and attenuation measurements give insight into materials microstructure and associated mechanical properties. Recent developments with laser beam non-contact generation and detection of ultrasound are presented. The results of several years of experimental measurements using high-power ultrasound are discussed, which provide substantial evidence of the inability of presently accepted theories to fully explain the interaction of ultrasound with solid materials. Finally, a special synchrotron X-ray topographic system is described which affords the possibility of observing direct interaction of ultrasonic waves with the microstructural features of real crystalline solid materials for the first time.